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This is the Operation Manual for Steinberg’s HALion Sonic. Here you will find detailed information about all the features and functions in the application.
Typographical Conventions
In our documentation, we use structural and markup elements to present information according to its purpose.
How To Contact Us
Click the Steinberg logo in the top right corner of the control panel to open a pop-up menu which includes information on how to contact us and to receive help.
About the Documentation
The documentation is available online and can be downloaded in PDF format from http://www.steinberg.help.
Setting Up
You can use HALion Sonic as a plug-in for a number of host applications. Depending on the host application, you might have to make additional settings, or you might be restricted to a reduced parameter set, number of outputs, etc.
Window Overview
The HALion Sonic window is divided into several sections.
Some common controls and concepts exist throughout the program. For example, presets can be used in several different sections and contexts, but their handling is always the same.
Knobs and Sliders
Knobs and sliders can be unidirectional or bidirectional. Unidirectional values, for example, level values, start at a minimum value and go up to the maximum. Bidirectional controls start from the middle position and go to the left for negative and to the right for positive values.
HALion Sonic contains two different types of buttons: On/Off buttons and push buttons.
Value Fields
You can enter or edit values in the available value fields using your keyboard or mouse. To enter key ranges or the root key, for example, you can use an external MIDI keyboard.
Key Commands Dialog
The Key Commands dialog allows you to view and edit key commands for the main menus and functions in HALion Sonic.
HALion Sonic offers two types of presets: section/module presets and VST presets. Section and module presets store and recall the setup of a specific component on the HALion Sonic panel. VST presets contain all information necessary to restore the complete state of the plug-in.
In the plug-in functions section, on the toolbar, and on the Options page, you can find global functions and settings for HALion Sonic.
Plug-in Functions Section
The plug-in functions section at the top of the window gives you access to global functions that affect both the currently loaded programs and the general working of the plug-in.
Plug-in Name and Steinberg Logo
To obtain information regarding the version and build number of the plug-in, click the plug-in logo. This opens the About box. To close the About box, click it, or press Esc on your computer keyboard.
The toolbar contains useful global functions.
Performance Controls
The performance controls are located in the lower part of the window.
Quick Controls
Quick controls allow you to remote-control any parameter inside the program.
Trigger Pads
You can use the trigger pads to trigger single notes or whole chords and to switch between FlexPhraser or arpeggiator variations.
Options Page
The Options Page contains global settings regarding performance optimization, global functions, MIDI controllers, etc.
On the Edit page, you can access the parameters and settings for programs and layers. Furthermore, this is where you set up the insert effects.
Program Page Parameters
The Program page is divided into two sections. The section at the top serves to load and save layers, and to set up the mix parameters, such as level, pan, and FX sends. The bottom section displays layer ranges, program FlexPhraser editors, quick control assignments, or Note Expression parameters.
Layer Page Parameters
Which parameters are available on the Layer page depends on the selected layer and layer type. Some layers offer their parameters on a dedicated macro page. Other content layers allow you to set up and edit their parameters.
Insert Effects
The Inserts tab offers you up to four insert effects for the program and for each of its layers.
The FlexPhraser is an arpeggio and phrase player.
Loading Phrases
Phrases are sorted into subfolders, according to the type of instrument. Each instrument subfolder contains phrases of different musical styles.
FlexPhraser Parameters
Recording the MIDI Output of the FlexPhraser
The phrases played by the FlexPhraser depend on the notes that are played and can therefore not be exported directly. However, it is possible to generate exportable phrases by recording the MIDI output of the FlexPhraser.
Phrase Playback Types
HALion Sonic features a substantial selection of phrase types, organized in submenus and categorized according to functional descriptions or musical styles, such as Classic Arp, Synth Seq, Chord Seq, Bass, etc.
For each FlexPhraser, you can set up 8 different variations of phrases. You can switch between them with the variation buttons at the top right.
User Phrases
The user pattern of the FlexPhraser has up to 32 steps. Each step has an adjustable velocity, gate length, and transpose value. By setting the steps, adjusting their length, or leaving pauses, you define the rhythm of the user pattern.
You can automate most of the HALion Sonic parameters from within your host application, whether these are parameters of a program or global parameters such as AUX effects.
Automation Page
All assigned automation parameters are shown on the Automation page.
Setting Up Automation
You can load, save, and manage different kinds of sound files.
Programs, Layers, and Multi-Programs
HALion Sonic allows you to load Steinberg content, user-generated content, or third-party libraries.
Registering VST Sounds
To be able to use the content of VST Sound containers, the containers must be registered in the MediaBay.
Loading Programs and Layers
You can load programs and layers via the Load Panel, via drag and drop onto the Slot Rack, and via various context menus in different areas of the plug-in.
Slot Rack
The Slot Rack has 16 slots. Each slot can contain a program, that is, you can work with 16 programs at the same time.
Managing and Loading Files
You can use the MediaBay and the Browser to manage, navigate to, load, and preview different file types.
You can make MIDI and MIDI controller settings on the MIDI page and the Options page.
The MIDI page gives you access to the MIDI slot parameters of HALion Sonic.
MIDI Controllers
You can assign the parameters volume, pan, mute, solo, send FX 1–4, and the quick controls of each slot to a MIDI controller. In addition to the slot parameters, you can also assign the parameters of the AUX FX and most of the edit parameters.
You cam perform your mixing operations on the Mix page.
Mix Page
The Mix page gives you access to the audio parameters of HALion Sonic. This comprises the level and pan settings, as well as the AUX effect sends and the output selector. To monitor the output levels, each slot also features a level meter.
AUX Effects
On the Effects page, you can set up insert effects for the four AUX busses.
HALion Sonic comes with a collection of high-quality studio effects.
Reverb Effects
The Reverb submenu contains the reverb effects.
Delay Effects
The Delay submenu contains the delay effects.
EQ Effects
The EQ submenu contains the equalizer effects.
Filter Effects
The Filter submenu contains the filter effects.
Distortion Effects
The Distortion submenu contains the distortion effects.
Pitch Shift Effects
The Pitch Shift submenu contains the pitch shifting effects.
Modulation Effects
The Modulation submenu contains the modulation effects.
Dynamics Effects
The Dynamics submenu contains the dynamics effects.
Spatial and Panner Effects
The Spatial + Panner submenu contains the stereo panorama effects.
Legacy Effects
The Legacy submenu contains legacy effects that were used in HALion 3.
Steinberg’s Note Expression technology was developed for creating realistic instrument performances. Note Expression allows you to create automated modulations for each note. HALion Sonic supports Note Expression for volume, pan, and tuning.
Note Expression Editor
The editor shows the Note Expression controllers on the left and the assigned modulation destinations on the right. This gives you a quick overview of how the Note Expression controllers are routed in the modulation matrix and what their influence on the sound will be.
You can use HALion Sonic independently of a host application.
Preferences Settings
You can configure the standalone version of HALion Sonic via the Plug-in Preferences dialog.
Preferences Dialog
The Plug-in Preferences dialog has several pages on which you can make settings.
Selecting the MIDI Input and the Audio Output
Scratch Pad
The scratch pad allows you to record and play back MIDI files in Standard MIDI File format (SMF). You can load existing MIDI files, and you can record your own files and save them.
Loading a MIDI File
You can load MIDI files in Standard MIDI File format (file name extension .mid).
Saving a MIDI File
Master Volume